Saturday, January 03, 2009


Advertiser doesn’t do protests

by Larry Geller

Newspapers do have a bias. Call it what you will, I call it bias. The Honolulu Advertiser doesn’t do protests. Nor do they cover the Bush administration’s planned response to potential mass protests in the USA.

If my only news source was my daily paper I’d never know that the world is aflame with anger over the continued Israeli bombardment of Gaza and their murder of countless innocent civilians. Of course, we all depend on the Internet for our news these days, and good thing.

Thousands are protesting in London. There are protests across the USA, in major European cities, in the MidEast and even in Israel itself. At the end of the continuation of the Gaza story they chose, only a few protests got mentioned, leaving the impression that there weren’t many. Wrong.

You’ll find the info here, for example, in a simple Google search. Or if you follow the foreign press, the Times reported yesterday:

From Jakarta to London, a wave of protest erupted across the world today against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

More than 10,000 marched through the Indonesian capital and Israeli flags were burnt and trampled upon in Asia as the Palestinian death toll in the offensive rose above 430, including three young brothers killed this morning.

Thirty new Israeli raids struck the Gaza Strip today as thousands of Hamas supporters attended the funeral of Nizar Rayan, the most senior Hamas victim of the offensive. He was killed with his four wives and 11 of his children in another Israeli raid yesterday. [Times (London), Protests against Gaza attack sweep across the world, 1/2/2009]


Update: Just after I posted this, the news of a large protest came out in a NY Times story, Times Square Rally Protests Fighting in Gaza Strip. Let’s see if the Advertiser covers this or any other demonstration against the Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. C’mon, Advertiser, I dare you.

Anger over the Israeli assault on Gaza spilled into Times Square on Saturday, as hundreds of protesters condemned the attacks in a demonstration that stretched four blocks and clogged much of central tourist district for several hours.

The protest came as Israeli troops began a ground incursion into the Hamas-controlled territory in what officials described as an effort to end Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. The land campaign follows eight days of Israeli airstrikes that have killed more than 430 Palestinians, many of them civilians.

The US has also failed in its attempt to keep the Gaza invasion off the table at the UN:

President of the U.N. General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a Nicaraguan who has been critical of both the United States and Israel, told reporters that the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza was a "monstrosity."

He also accused the United States, a veto-wielding permanent council member, of aiding Israel by undermining the council's ability to intervene in the Gaza crisis. [Reuters, U.N. council holds emergency meeting on Gaza, 1/4/2009]

The number and size of the demonstrations is truly unusual, given the efforts of the Israel lobby to suppress any opposition to its actions with regard to Palestine. Perhaps this is a kind of breakthrough in coverage.

I had a foolish dream that Bush might try to improve his legacy by ordering the Israelis to quit and pull out of Gaza. Like I said, a foolish dream.

Now, think back. On the Web, during the Democratic and Republican conventions you probably saw numerous images of riot police attacking or arresting protestors, bystanders and even accredited journalists wearing ID. What do you think of the coverage these events garnered in our local paper?

Another example: President Bush was the target not only of shoes during his press conference in Baghdad, but also in effigy across the world as spontaneous demonstrations sprung up. One of the most popular was this AP news photo that captured the spirit of the Code Pink action at the nation’s capitol, but it wasn’t the coverage that the Advertiser chose to use:

Shoes for Bush

(More Washington shoe protest photos here, so you can see the variety that was out there on the Web).

So what did the Advertiser cover? They choose which AP stories they use. In the case of the shoe protests, they chose to run a short piece about a protest in Berkeley. Nothing at all about the big one in DC. Not a whisper that anything big was happening out in the world. Readers with no computers or internet access got this:

Berkeley protest

This is a lousy choice. First of all, the picture is confusing, it’s not clear if there is a giant shoe or if the photographer was trying something fancy instead of reporting the news. The foreground shoe of course diverts attention from whatever might have been going on at the scene.

Basically, the editors had a choice, and they knew about the AP and other stories that covered larger protests, and as in today’s Gaza coverage, they elected to print a story that leaves the impression that not much protest happened.

If your grandparents depend on the paper for their news and you ask them what they thought about the shoe protests, they might say “oh, yeah, the one in Berkeley.” ‘Cause that’s all the Advertiser would let them know about.

That’s bias.

I have a right to complain, too. The Advertiser just sent me a second bill for $208 for a year’s renewal even though I paid them with a Costco coupon (much cheaper). There is less in the paper and they choose to omit some news I’d like to have. How come they haven’t reduced the subscription fee? Less news, less we should pay, no?

While concerns have been raised about domestic deployment of military troops that could be used to suppress dissent, and Hawaii is mentioned as one place this might apply, you’ll have to look to the Web for discussion. Two original stories are here (Washington Post)  and here (Army Times). More on this and the remarks of Obama’s chief of staff are here:

New rules published in the Federal Register would allow certain civilians to call American soldiers into action inside the U.S. to prevent environmental damage or respond to "special events"  and "other domestic activities."

The alarming warning is contained in proposed rules published last week for the Department of Defense's  "Defense Support of Civil Authorities" plan.

Under the U.S. Constitution, soldiers inside the country essentially are tasked with the responsibility of quelling "insurrections" and repelling invasions as well as making sure each state has access to the republican form of government.

But the new rules go far beyond that, essentially establishing a plan to activate the U.S. military inside the country to deal with social issues under provisions that appear to be devoid of any connection to the Constitution, according to an expert. [WorldNetDaily, U.S. troops' new mission: America's 'special events', 12/13/2008]

So troops could be called out one day to interfere in peaceful protests in Hawaii, and no thanks to our daily paper, we’ll be surprised when they do it. Remember, the Advertiser doesn’t do protests, much less cover a portentous topic such as this.

Surveys show that more people are flocking to the web and TV as their main news sources. It’s no wonder. We want news, and much of it simply isn’t in our daily paper due to the choices that editors make.


Hey, there was a protest article in the Sunday paper, at last. Of course, they'll say your blog had nothing to do with it. There were even big protests in Israel itself yesterday.

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